Today, we had lunch at Emeril's Tchoup Chop at Universal Orlando. The restaurant is located at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, which is a short walk from Universal's Islands of Adventure.
A couple of years ago, before I started my blog, we had dinner at Tchoup Chop, and I had one of the best salmon dishes I have ever had in a restaurant, so I was excited to go back.
Tchoup Chop does not have a gluten free menu, but our server was extremely knowledgeable about what items on the menu were naturally gluten free, or could be modified to be gluten free.
My first disappointment came when another server dropped off these complimentary shrimp chips, telling us that they were gluten free. Our server quickly appeared and said that they are fried in a shared fryer, so I was not able to eat them.
We waited quite a while for our meal, even though we were the only customers in the restaurant when we ordered. That was not a big deal to me, because I enjoy a relaxing lunch on our theme park days, but my daughters were a little impatient.
I ordered the Loco Moco, which consists of Emeril's fried rice, a burger patty, and a fried egg. The teriyaki-mushroom sauce served with the dish was not gluten free, but our server told me they had gluten free soy sauce. I enjoyed the fried rice, which contained edamame, shrimp, pork, and chicken, but my burger was really overcooked. I asked for it medium well, but I could tell that it was well done before I even tasted it. After having an amazingly juicy burger at Burger 21 earlier this week, that was ordered cooked to the same temperature, I was disappointed. I loved the concept of this dish, but I didn't eat half of my burger, because it was too dry to enjoy.
For dessert, I ordered the creme brulee, but told our server that I would be sharing it with my family. Imagine my shock when it arrived with a fried plantain garnish that I could not eat, because Tchoup Chop does not have a dedicated fryer. I told our server that I could not eat the whipped cream and berries on the side, because of the risk of cross contamination, so he brought me a separate bowl of berries and whipped cream. I then began to wonder if my dessert had really been prepared in a safe manner.
My favorite part of creme brulee is the caramelized sugar on top, but this dish had what appeared to be caramel sauce drizzled across it, which I wasn't crazy about. After eating my dessert, I began to feel like I might have been slightly glutened, but I don't know if I was just being paranoid.
Last year, I heard the Lagasse Girls speak at the Gluten-Free Living Conference in Orlando. I have been a huge fan of Emeril Lagasse for years, but I find it a little surprising that Tchoup Chop does not have a gluten free menu when his daughters Jilly and Jessie have been eating gluten free for over 10 years.
I have been wanting to return to Emeril's Tchoup Chop since reading my friend Amanda's review on her blog Eating Out...Without, but I don't think we will be dining there again.